GW Recaps–Two-Faced Woman: Prelude, Chapter One, Two
In writing this book, I decided it would have a different framework. I didn’t want Gabriel to be tied to tarot. The I Ching sprung out of me as I had taught my world religions class the importance of the book and practice to Daoism. I have a preface regarding the use of the I Ching as I take it seriously as a sacred text in Daoism. The hexagram on the cover of Two-Faced Woman is 11, Tai. It means a sense of fulfillment at having been working on one’s purpose–and a sense of advancing. Although Gabriel is suffering, he does have that feeling of advancement.
The title of Two-Faced Woman refers to Sophie and to Geneva, the idea of hidden lives and there being more to a person whether or not they realize it.
Let’s move on to Two-Faced Woman:
Prelude: 64 Anticipating Completion (Wèi Jì) Water over Fire
Gabriel is having a nightmare where he is back in the warehouse with Ethan Nelson. Nelson tries to kill Joel, and then turns his gun on Gabriel, who feels himself being shot and falling. He wakes up in the middle of the night, and tries to piece together what happened. Bit by bit, with Archie’s help, he recalls that he had been frustrated all day because Alex had demanded that he not work. Joel had come over to help with some tasks so Gabriel could rest–although he does not. Frustrated, he crushes his cigarettes. Joel asks him what’s wrong, and Gabriel can’t say. But Joel knows that Gabriel is still reliving what happened in Westchester and tells him it’s not the first time he’s been threatened with a gun.
Gabriel suddenly just wants to be out. He decides to take a few Xanax. He locks himself in his bedroom. Joel demands to be let in, and finally breaks down the door. He stays with Gabriel, who isn’t in trouble. But he flushes Gabriel’s remaining tablets. Apparently he called Veronica to help watch Gabriel, and even answered one of Alex’s texts to Gabriel, pretending to be Gabriel.
As Gabriel puts all of this night together, Archie reminds him he needs to get his shit together.
Chapter One 35 Proceeding (Jìn)
Carl Mankiewitz is reporting on Gabriel’s recent activities. A New Jersey news outlet reports on a new case in which Michaela has been hired. Michaela has in turned hired Gabriel to work as an investigator on the case. The case is that of Sophie Faulkner, who has been arrested for murder. The victim is Leonard Mathers, an acquaintance of Sophie’s.
Gabriel has a haunting dream about his mother, and hearing women being tortured underground somewhere. Gabriel and Michaela are in the Union County jail, visiting Sophie.
They have brought Dr. Peter Adler along to evaluate her mental state, as Michaela has seen what appears to be memory related issues. Gabriel is annoyed at Adler’s patronizing attitude toward Sophie.
Sophie mentions someone named Edward, but won’t say who he is. The way she describes him makes Gabriel realize Sophie has a second self. He asks for Edward to appear. Hesitant at first, Sophie leaves and Edward takes over. Edward explains that Leonard was a decent guy who was big into opera and occult theories, but he doesn’t know who killed Leonard. He does mention that Leonard used to hang out at Wildemore hospital.
Despite Gabriel’s harsh words with Adler after the interview, Michaela is pleased with the progress made. She queries Gabriel on what’s going on in his life with Alex and Joel. Gabriel insists his life is not a soap opera, and that he is fine to work on the case, despite the fact Mikki can see how tired and stressed he is. Gabriel finally admits that Alex has been pressuring him to change careers, and is exhibiting some class issues. He’s also fought with Danny over Joel’s return to Gabriel’s life. Mikki points out that she’s picked upon Gabriel and Joel’s unstated feelings for each other.
Gabriel refuses to give that any credence, denying he and Joel are anything but friends. He goes back home to read about Wildemore.
Chapter Two 31 46 Ascending (Shēng)
Gabriel dreams of Kent Varney, who tells him to rid himself of his inner demons.
Gabriel is waiting that evening for Alex to show up. Alex has recently been promoted. While Gabriel waits, he’s talking on the phone with his good friend Bob Jarvey, who knows Edward and Leonard Mathers. Bob agrees to give Gabriel a tour of Wildemore. Bob also inquires about Gabriel’s personal life. Joel is in Europe at the moment, handling the estate of a friend of his. Bob, like Michaela, feels there’s more going on between Gabriel and Joel than Gabriel’s willing to admit.
Alex finally arrives. He’s concerned, as Gabriel is sitting on the kitchen floor in the cold, lost in thought. As they have recently had a bad fight, they’re both trying to make up for it. But Gabriel finds that his anger is still there, no matter his intentions. Alex clearly wants Joel out of their life, and Gabriel clearly wants Alex to mind his own business, and to stop trying to improve him. Nonetheless, they spend the night together. But Gabriel is restless. He gets up in the middle of the night to review Kent’s files.
The next morning Gabriel is pleased that Joel is staying in touch while in Amsterdam. Alex gets on his nerves again. Then Gabriel and Bob go to Wildemore, the abandoned hospital. Inside, in the basement on one wing, they find Leonard’s home, his oasis, decorated with posters of his favorite operas. In a trunk, Gabriel finds a notebook with mysterious writing. Gabriel updates Mikki on the find.
Later, in Chinatown. Gabriel shows up at a Tao Master’s door. This is Zihou Chiang, Gabriel’s former Baguazhang mentor. Gabriel asks to be accepted as a student again. Chiang sharply questions him, then agrees to give him another chance, telling him to come back.
Between the Pages:
- Work is a blessing for Gabriel, in his own words. While he’s sinking personally, he’s still able to be at the top of his game in his instincts, and able to determine (better than the psychiatrist for hire). He have had to admit to Mikki that his personal life is going to hell, and that he’s tortured to a degree, but he refuses not to work and in fact is determined to remain at the top of his game.
- Gabriel’s instinct with people that helps him in his work. Dreams begin to play a large part here. In Gabriel’s preoccupation with death, it makes sense his dreams would also invoke dead persons. In this next dream, his mother appears and asks Gabriel to help people being tortured underground.
- This story has a different way of looking at persons who have multiple selves. Hopefully, this is turning the trope of the “multiple personality who is murderous” on its head. Sophie is not Sybil, nor is she United States of Tara. Sophie’s characterization is based upon research of persons who have other selves. The term selves is used as it’s more accurate than personalities. Eddie is a different person than Sophie. He helps, but he isn’t there because of childhood trauma. He’s just there, as himself.
- This book is a level up in dark and edgy, and a touch of surreal with the introduction of dream sequences. Dreams can be scary because we don’t know why they happen nor how to control them. Gabriel’s dream in this section stems directly from his guilt feelings. He’s not dealing with the daytime any better–as he says himself, either working or boxing, not eating or sleeping much.
- Heroic Bluescreen of Death In this trope, the hero is having a mental freeze due to trauma. Gabriel is embodying this, and would agree that his mind is like the fabled computer bluescreen of death.
- Reinvention/rehabilitation. When a case is going right, the information starts flowing. That information makes Gabriel’s blood flow as well, prompting his sense of purpose. But as happens with some of Gabriel’s cases, there’s a strong sense of the unusual. That gets him going even more, intrigued by Leonard’s mysterious writings and Leonard’s ethereal sense of opera characters.
- Gabriel at least has some good news. His license is not in danger from the Bunton incident in THM. The criminal case is dismissed as is the lawsuit. Part of the small upticks in fortune Gabriel has.
- Despite Gabriel’s best intentions, there are some indicators of serious trouble brewing with him and Alex. As most of us know we can be angry and sexual, when the heat carries over. But Gabriel is feeling frozen.
Beyond the Pages:
- “…noted civil rights activist Bayard Rustin…” Bayard Rustin was a black gay man who was instrumental in arranging Dr. King’s march on Washington, and a friend of King. Please see more about this extraordinary man here, in a discussion with Julian Bond.
- The situation Mankiewitz mentions in his news story is a real problem in New York City. Trans persons in particular face this harassment.
- “To quote Bill Murray, ‘So I got that going for me–which is nice.’” From Caddyshack.
“That’s the fact, Jack.” From Stripes.
Questions for Readers:
It’s wintertime in the story. I feel a chill all around Gabriel, and he feels it inside, if not outside (his sitting the in the freezing draft). Have you ever been lost enough from something that you felt out of touch will all around you? What brought you back?
Simple Minds, Alive and Kicking. I’ve found this song to be slightly surreal. It has the building, urgent feel I like in pop music, with the call-and-response vocals. The song is prescient of what’s to come and also what exists in Gabriel’s mind now.
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Who’s gonna save you?
David Gray, Sail Away. You all know I love David Gray, and so Gabriel must love David. Many hours spent meditating, contemplating the world to David’s music.
Oh all the times I’ve tasted love
Never knew quite what I had
Little Darling if you hear me now
Never needed you so bad
Spinning round inside my head
Concerto grosso. This is a baroque style of music, where small groups of soloists and full orchestras contrast with each other. It has a particular depth and Gothicness to it that applies to the story–a lot of minor keys. The specific one I have in mind is by Locatelli:
Tosca, Vissi d’arte. The first of the opera songs framing Two-Faced Woman. Floria Tosca sings of her misfortune and apparent abandonment by God. Leonard Mathers would appreciate this aria very much. Check out this video of the great Maria Callas.
A short story, Obsession. It’s elsewhere on the website, and here’s the link. This story is actually relevant to the tension in the book between Gabriel, Joel and Alex, and the incidents involved are referred to later.
Page updated 7/26/2017
Copyright 2017 Alex Fiano